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Gaming History You Should Know – History of TRON October 10, 2021

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It’s Sunday! Time for another Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced videos about the making of video games. Today, I know we’re going to talk about a movie but I can assure you if you stick with me this story will get back to gaming.

Known for its animated classics like Snow White, Pinocchio and Cinderella, no company is more recognized in the US for groundbreaking animation as the Disney studio. However, following the death of its founder, and a decade before Disney started taking over theaters with incredible successes like Lion King and Aladdin, Disney was in a rut. The studio had weathered several theatrical flops, and would need to weather several more.

It may seem like a hopeless time, but for creative companies, being down can get them to take some more unusual risks. In the early 80s, a man named Steven Lisberger was making a name for his company working on a new type of light infused animation that used photo gels on animation cells to create a “glow” effect. At the same time, personal computers were starting to take off, and it was becoming common for nearly every office space to require interacting with a computer.

At the time, computers were dark and mysterious things to the general public and most of the contemporary Sci-Fi stories foretold computers bringing about the end of mankind. However, Steven Lisberger became interested in telling a story about just what was going on INSIDE the computer. He theorized the programs we created would be a lot like us, and they may in fact view us in the same way we would perceive a great creator. In the end, he convinced Disney to create one of the most technologically groundbreaking film of the time, TRON.

Toy Galaxy, who is famous for talking about some of the cult classic shows from the 80s and 90s, did their most recent video about TRON. It talks about the inspiration behind the film, its reception at the time and the film’s enduring legacy.

Man, I really wish TRON 2.0 was still canon.

Gaming History You Should Know – Sir Clive Sinclair September 26, 2021

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It’s Sunday, welcome back to another Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced documentaries across the web about the history of games. If you followed the news this past week, you may have learned that we recently lost one of the original pioneers of home PC gaming, Sir Clive Sinclair. If you are a British visitor to this website the name above may be a bit more familiar. Sir Clive was of a mind that personal computers should be cheap and readily available to everyone. While this philosophy sounds great on paper, anyone with computing background will tell you that if you are sourcing cheaper parts, you will sacrifice either quality or performance. In the case of the Sinclair computer, while it wasn’t as robust as a Commodore 64 or Apple II, nor could it have as good a performance as either, its lower price made it a good choice for young people to use as their first PC.

Before we talk about the man, I want to talk a bit about the machines that bore his name. Here’s a video produced by the 8-Bit Guy, who talked about the Sinclair computers. He mostly highlights the computers that made their way over to the US, but they are fairly comparable to the more common UK units. I honestly had never experienced using these machines back in the 80s, so this is a great video to watch them in action.

Next we are going to talk about the man behind the machine, and also about the impact the man and the machine had on so many people. Here’s the work of Computerphile, a channel I appreciate for their detailed documentaries about computer history. In this special video, they interviewed many people from the classic gaming community to share their thoughts about the Sinclair platform and about their experiences with the man himself. Enjoy.

Rest In Peace, Sir.

Gaming History You Should Know – Making of Jurassic Park Trespasser September 19, 2021

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Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced documentaries on the web focused on gaming. Today, we’re going to be talking about one of the most beloved franchises of all time, Jurassic Park.

Most people remember the fact Jurassic Park had several film sequels over the years including The Lost World, Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World. However, those same people probably have no idea that there was an officially canonical sequel to Jurassic Park in the form of a video game, Jurassic Park: Trespasser. Set after the events of The Lost World, the game features the talents of Lord Richard Attenborough and Minnie Driver. The game follows Anne, played by Minnie Driver, as she finds herself marooned on Site B, the same location featured in The Lost World and Jurassic Park III. While there, guided by her memory of John Hammond’s recently published memoirs (which are narrated by the actor himself during gameplay), the player must help Anne escape the island. The game offers a deeper look at Site B and further insight into Jurassic Park’s lore that I still consider canon to this day. Heck, Steven Spielberg himself even contributed to some of the game’s design.

With all that behind it, why doesn’t anyone talk about the game? Valve even admitted it was a huge inspiration for Half-Life 2. The problem was the game was a nearly unplayable mess filled with plenty of game-breaking bugs. Reviews of the game, even at the time it was released, were not kind and the Jurassic Park name alone was only so helpful when it came to actual sales.

I vaguely remember hearing about the game shortly around the time of its release. I remember being intrigued by the demo, but as a High School student with no personal income I was never able to snag a copy. However, after reading the finished game’s negative reviews I lost most of my motivation to get it. Years later, I found an incredible Let’s Play on the internet archive by Research Indicates, and I saw for myself that while the game was clearly wonky with a lot of unresolved technical issues, it’s story, combined with RI’s commentary, absolutely drew me in. Seriously, I ended up staying up all night once because I had to watch him play through every single level.

So what is the history of this game, how was it made and what about it was so groundbreaking? YouTube creator Kim Justice produced this full documentary about the creation of Jurassic Park: Trespasser I can’t recommend enough. Give it a watch below and see for yourself.

Jurassic Park: Trespasser is out now exclusively for the PC.

Gaming History You Should Know – Halo 2: The Road To Glory August 29, 2021

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Sunday has arrived, and now it’s time to bring back another Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced gaming documentaries across the web. Today, instead of focusing on a documentary about a game or game franchise, we’re going to look at something that was focused particularly on the people who call themselves fans.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced the official release date of the next major game in the Halo series, Halo: Infinite, and while the hype levels for the game have been a bit under the radar due to the game’s longer than expected development time Halo has always had a major fan base excited for each new game. In fact, I cannot under-describe just how big a deal the release of Halo 2 was back in November 2004, and that was just the second game in the series. Halo: Combat Evolved was an incredible game and between 2002-2004, players were going crazy waiting for its sequel, which promised online multiplayer.

I picked up Halo 2 at midnight on its release night, and can attest how excited the crowd was. A few months later, I caught the announcement on the Halo fansite Halo.Bungie.Org about an upcoming film called Halo 2: The Road to Glory, which was going to be about the agonizing wait a group of Halo fans were enduring anticipating the release of Halo 2. The film was directed by Noah Gallop, who went under the gaming name Mortalis, and was released in 2005, a few months after the release of Halo 2. It also featured interviews with Noah’s friends, and had a cameo by the late Knuckles Dawson.

I was one of the lucky people who was able to brave the (shudder) BitTorrent release and watch the film back when it first released. Of course, that is no longer an option and I had no idea if his documentary would ever make an appearance in other mediums like YouTube. Thankfully, one of the people who appeared in the doc, Barbara Molt, was nice enough to put it on their YouTube Channel. It’s a great watch, if just as a time capsule for early Halo fandom.

I was actually able to get in touch with the film’s director about a decade ago to express to him how much his film meant to me, but sadly we lost touch shortly afterwards. I hope he’s doing well. In fact, The Road to Glory inspired several videos I’ve made over the past few years particularly my Halo 4 fan documentary, Waiting for Halo 4.

Halo 2 is out for the Xbox and PC.

Gaming History You Should Know – Epic Mickey: What Might Have Been August 8, 2021

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It’s Sunday, and that means it’s time for yet another Gaming History You Should Know, where we share some of the most interesting videos we’ve found across the web detailing the history of games.

Mickey Mouse has been an enduring figure of popular culture ever since he first appeared in the short film Steamboat Willie. Since the advent of gaming, he has appeared in countless video games (of varying quality). In 2009, Disney Interactive made a huge push for a new type of game lead by Game God Warren Spector, Epic Mickey. Despite favorable reviews, an original art style, and decent sales, the franchise eventually dissolved following a disappointing sequel.

Nowadays, everyone barely remembers the franchise, and most of Mickey’s gaming fans returned to playing the Kingdom Hearts games. But did you know, before they pulled the plug, Disney was banking on delivering a lot more Epic Mickey games? I didn’t. DidYouKnowGaming, who is legendary for being one of the biggest references on the internet for game history trivia, produced this fantastic in-depth dive into the history of the games’ development, and what we lost following the closure of Junction Point. Check it out.

Disney’s Epic Mickey is out now for the Wii. Epic Mickey 2 is out now for the Wii U, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Gaming History You Should Know – History of the Apple I August 1, 2021

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Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced videos on the history of video games. Today, we’re going Old School, and talking about one of the very first Personal Computers. In fact, this may be the FIRST computer ever made that could be considered worthy of the term PC. Before the iPhone, iPad, Mac or even the Lisa was a thing, Apple was just a small business trying to create a computer they could sell to regular people.

Steve Wozniak, who I will henceforth refer to as “The Woz”, designed and constructed Apple’s first computer on his own time. It used custom processors in a configuration that revolutionized anything other companies were doing at the time. After getting rejections from every major company who might’ve had a legal claim to his work, Woz and Steve Jobs moved on to create the computers themselves. The company would go on to be called Apple and as of this day is one of the most successful companies in the world.

The 8-Bit Guy did this fascinating look at the original Apple Computer, affectionately dubbed the Apple-I. Enjoy.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Sharp NES Television July 25, 2021

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Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced content on the history of games. While I always make sure to prioritize space for my big screen TVs and game consoles, other people are not so lucky. Today’s modern SmartTVs work by integrating online services like Netflix and Prime without the need to buy a separate Chromecast or AppleTV. Back in the day, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see televisions with integrated DVD players, or before that you would see combination TVs with VHS players. Most people remember at least one person who had a tv like that, but did you know you could’ve gotten a brand-new TV with a built-in game console as early as the 90s?

One of the first major rare items I can think of when it comes to gaming history was the Sharp Game Television. Not too much is known about its development but these TVs are just iconic, and a reminder of an era when the Nintendo Entertainment System ruled the gaming landscape. It was essentially a 19” television with a built-in NES. In the early 90s, that was all some people needed.

YouTube Channel Nintendrew has created what I believe is the definitive history and analysis of this TV. He also dispels some serious myths I’ve heard about since forever. Give it a watch!

Gaming History You Should Know – Donkey Kong Country Dissection July 11, 2021

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It’s Sunday, and this is the long-awaited return of Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced gaming documentaries across the internet. As a person who grew up playing games almost exclusively on the PC, I never owned an SNES or Nintendo 64. Quite a shame, as in the mid-90s, Nintendo was in the middle of a renaissance reinventing what they could do with their classic properties for the 90s. Games like Super Metroid and Link to the Past not just revolutionized the games that came before them, but set a new standard for gaming later games would have to meet. But what do you do when you have a character like Donkey Kong?

Donkey Kong, created by Shigeru Miyamoto, was an arcade game which put you into the shoes of the iconic Jumpman (later named Mario) where you had to tangle with the titular Donkey Kong in a quest to save your girlfriend, Pauline. It was a great game for its time, but by the 90s it would be the character of Mario that Nintendo was known for, not Donkey Kong. To bring DK back into his rightful place of Nintendo’s pantheon, Nintendo needed to create a new Donkey Kong game for the 90s. They tasked the studio Rare, who brought in SGI 3D-graphics workstations that could create a game to win back players’ to the great ape. The game would be called Donkey Kong Country and it would be a tremendous success.

YouTube star MistareFusion, who I’ve been inspired by ever since I saw his comparison of the original Power Rangers shows with the Sentai it was based on, produced this great video about the classic game. He covers it’s history, the technical aspects about the game and what made it so ground breaking for the time. It’s a great look back into the era and I totally recommend giving it a watch.

Donkey Kong Country is out now for the SNES. It can be played on the Nintendo Switch as part of the Nintendo Switch Online service.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Nokia N-Gage June 6, 2021

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It’s Sunday! Welcome back to another Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced content focused on the history of gaming. Nowadays, it’s common to play a high quality game on your portable phone, but 17 years ago that just wasn’t possible. Today, we’re going to highlight one of gaming’s biggest missteps of all time, where a major company just jumped too early and it eventually cost them everything.

Let me set the scene for you guys. It was E3 2003. I was an 18-year old kid attending his first E3. While I was there to preview the PC games, I was exposed to everything the show had to offer (and it was GLORIOUS!). In 2003, when it came to handheld gaming, Nintendo was sitting on the top of the mountain with Game Boy Advance partially due to the incredible success of games like Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. Cell phones were starting to take off, with almost everyone that year having a personal one small enough to fit in their pocket. One of the biggest cell phone makers at the time was a company called NOKIA, which enjoyed a enormous market share due to their simple yet well-made handsets.

In 2003, a common cell phone was small, would last about a day on a single charge, could make calls and send simple text messages, and be a calculator. That was about it. If you wanted to play games on the go, you needed either a laptop or a GBA, and that would mean carrying another thing in your pocket along with your wallet and phone. At E3 2003, NOKIA announced they would change all that, and announced they were making a cell phone that could play games, and it would be called the N-Gage.

When the N-Gage eventually released it was a total flop. In fact, to say it flopped would be an understatement of the year, it flopped HARD! The price dropped almost immediately, and a hardware revision rushed to market, but it was all for naught. The handheld didn’t sell, and gamers went on to buy the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP instead. What happened?

Derek Alexander, host of the YouTube Channel Stop Skeletons From Fighting, has just produced what I would consider the definitive history of the N-Gage. If you ever wanted to see what would happen when a company does it WRONG, you need to watch this.

If you asked me, I don’t believe NOKIA ever really recovered from the N-Gage failure. The company went on to make a few more bad business decisions like partnering with MS to make nothing but Windows Phones at a time only iPhone and Android phones were selling, and that was that.

Gaming History You Should Know – Sega’s Genesis Modem May 30, 2021

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It’s Sunday, welcome back to a new Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best and most important independently produced gaming documentaries from across the web. As a PC user back in the mid-90s, I was strongly aware of the fact that I could use my PC to play games with people all over the world. Since high-speed internet utilities did not exist for residential consumers at that time, the only way I could get on the internet was with a telephone modem. For those of you who don’t know what that is, a modem would hook into a telephone land-line, and similar to how a FAX machine functions, and (depending on the configuration) transmits data either between two computers or one computer and their ISP. It was very slow, with even tiny downloads that would take hours, and very prone to disconnection but at the time it was the only way to play games online against people all over the world.

During the 16-Bit Gaming Wars, there were several attempts by console makers and their third-party hardware manufacturers to bring an online multiplayer experience to their game consoles. This was an interesting choice as game consoles typically supported two-to-four player gaming (depending on whoever else was on the couch with you at the time), and because of that online gaming was less of a priority. However, there were attempts. Today we are going to see the story of one of those attempts.

Enter Norman Caruso, better known as the Gaming Historian, with a documentary about the first attempt Sega made to bring a modem to their game console, the Genesis. If you had any interest in Japan’s gaming history, you need to give this video a watch!

As a person who lived in North America at the time, I vaguely remembered multiple attempts by Sega to incorporate a modem into their consoles over the years. The most successful of which was probably the modem that shipped with the Sega Dreamcast.